Parenting Ourselves, Faith, and Kids

I love using the end of the year (typically starting late November through the first weeks of January) to assess the previous year and what my hopes and longings are for the following year. Notice I didn’t say GOALS or RESOLUTIONS. My motivation is a lot more focused if I think about my hopes and longings because I believe that’s where God is most likely at work or active in my life, animating these desires by the Holy Spirit.

This year (2021), I want to pay more attention to how God might be at work in my son’s lives and our family unit. I start this by simply acknowledging that God longs for our family to know Him in intimate and personal ways. I long for my son’s to know that God loves them, forgives them, empowers them, and has a task in this life for them to participate in. I long for my son’s to have the spiritual vitality needed to make do in this world that is full of wonder, but also filled with pain.

I want my son’s to work hard, earn a livable wage, pay their bills on time, be gracious towards others, and participate in God’s redemptive purposes in this world. I want them to have loving relationships with friends a future partner, and to do common good in this world.

Whatever form that takes, I’m here to support. And I want to be with them as they learn to discern God’s active presence and invitations for their lives.

I hope to have religious, moral, and daily life conversations with my son’s as they get older and explore the different contours of life. I hope they can be honest with me or some other guide in their lives that will help them be self-aware, honest, compassionate, and courageous.

And I want them to enjoy the hell out of life: to travel, meet new people, have dreams and chase them.

I think Christina and I model our faith in public ways for our boys to see. We have a commitment to a local church community. We talk about our faith off and on during dinner time. But I think we can spend more time praying for them and listening to what God might want to say and do in their current lives.

Author Kara Powell says that we will get what we are. She cites another researcher saying,

“The most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents. “

— Christian Smith and Melissa Lundquist Denton (Smith and Denton, Soul Searching)

Powell, Kara. The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family (p. 28).

At this stage of faith, I trust that God fills us with the Spirit to parent our kids. But, as Dallas Willard says, “Grace is opposed to earning, not effort”. I can take some time to be intentional about praying for my son’s and listen to how the Spirit might be active in drawing near to them. This is my longing this year.

Reading Time and Parenting

Here’s a link to a post by a fella named Jeff Gunhus.  He talks about his experience with reading and interacting with his kids.  This has been a struggle for me in the past.  I am seeing some light though.  And Jeff’s suggestions have been confirmation that we’re on the right path.  As an example, my son and I read for an hour yesterday.  And we can’t wait to read today.  (By the way, I’m posting on my site in order to leave a digital footprint for my son’s to have some resources as they grow.)

source:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1002658351

JEFF’S 10 TIPS FOR REACHING YOUR RELUCTANT READER

  • Set up time to read with them. There’s always time. Sometimes you just have to carve it out of something else.
  • Have them read out loud. You’ll know better where they are getting hung up. Kids often avoid reading because they think they’re not good at it. Find out.
  • Read with a pencil. Underline words your reader has a tough time pronouncing or can’t define. Transfer to a separate page later.
  • Make them feel safe. Set the ground rules. Let them know that you didn’t know a lot of words when you were young. Confide that there are still words that you don’t know. There’s no judgment in the reading club.
  • Use books that are fun, easy reads at first. An author who ends each chapter with a white-knuckled cliffhanger helps.
  • Only let them read that book in your sessions. Make it special and use the cliffhanger to get them excited for the next session. Encourage a separate book to read outside the reading sessions if they are getting the bug.
  • Relate to the book. Figure out how your reader’s life relates to the characters. This helps critical thinking and makes it fun.
  • Write your own stories. They don’t have to be novels. But put your reader into the story, even if it’s just their name. Have fun with it.
  • Be consistent. Once you set this appointment, nothing can touch it. Nothing.
  • Have fun! This isn’t school, it’s supposed to be fun. You might be surprised. I didn’t expect to like the Harry Potter books but I loved them. Outside of writing Jack Templar, I had my own burst of reading. It was great fun and the more the boys saw me with a book in my hand, the more likely they were to do the same. The quiet mornings with my boys became some of my favorite times with them. I hope you can experience the same.

First Day of School: Prayers and Hopes

Many are starting school today (this week, this month).  We dropped our boys off and just like that, they’re off to learning and growing.  Here are some things I am praying and hoping for; not just for my kids but for all who are starting the school year.

*For Parenting Wisdom:  I am grateful for our teachers.  But I also know that our children’s education is our responsibility as parents and that it’s tough work.  So the prayer is one of humility, asking God to fill us with the wisdom needed to teach our children to be responsible, hard-working, playful, and thoughtful of others.

*teachers and staff members:  teachers pour themselves out so much every day.  Praying they would have the support needed to be the type of teachers that inspire and equip our children.  Praying that parents would get to know their teachers and see what their needs might be.

*a hope for building community:  it’s a hope of mine to build more long lasting relationships and community with parents.  In community we can give and receive support, help meet needs together, and impact the lives of our students and school.

*a hope for children to discover their talents and abilities:  the educational basics are great, we need them.  I also pray that students would discover their talents and abilities, and that we’d learn to value all the different types of ways students think and experience life.

*for those who don’t have educational opportunities:  I also can’t help but think of children (in the U.S. and abroad) who don’t have the opportunities to get the education they deserve because the country might be stricken by war, political upheaval, or poverty.

“Father, we ask to be parents that model Your love and grace to our kids.  We pray for our teachers and school communities–that they would become transformative communities of learning and compassion.  Amen”